September 16, 2009

In a pinch

At Tuesday's practice, Royce Adams wore a No. 10 black jersey, signifying his place on Purdue's offense.

But he knows a white jersey, those the defense wears during practice, is on standby, waiting to be worn again if needed. That's the life these days for the cornerback-turned-wide receiver-turned utility player.

Adams, a 6-foot, 190-pound senior, started Game 1 this season at wide receiver, but was forced to play defensive back vs. Oregon Saturday, due to the injury to cornerback Brandon King and Purdue's lack of experienced depth in its secondary. Which side of the ball he ends up on for Northern Illinois Saturday, and beyond, will depend as much on King's health as any other factors. Coach Danny Hope said King was "probable" for the game vs. NIU, after missing the loss to the Ducks because of a deep thigh bruise.

Adams, who started 19 games at cornerback during his first three seasons in West Lafayette, says he's willing to go wherever he's needed, provided he gets an opportunity to contribute there.

"I'm pretty much open," said Adams, who also plays on every one of Purdue's special teams. "It really doesn't matter to me, playing offense or defense or I can play both ways. Wherever they need me at. If they need me at defense this day, I'll go there; if they need on offense the next, I'll go there."

The Cleveland, Ohio native had moved to offense in the spring, to help give the Boilermakers a veteran presence at an otherwise young and thin position.

After struggling with drops then, Adams seemed to take better to the position in the fall, holding off the newcomers who challenged to take his starting spot. But he had only one ball thrown his direction vs. Toledo, and it ricocheted off his chest to the defense for an interception.

Still, one couldn't entirely blame Adams if he was a little peeved at the situation, given that he had won a starting spot in training camp, only to have it taken away because of an injury elsewhere.

But Adams is keeping an open mind. He attended an offensive personnel meeting Tuesday, getting the scouting report on Northern Illinois from a wide receiver perspective. He anticipated the possibility of attending a defensive backs meeting today.

"I like it man. It's what I did in high school, playing both ways. I wouldn't mind playing a little bit of running back either," he said laughing.

Adams says he learned of his move to defense on Thursday, only a day before Purdue traveled to Eugene. It gave him only a couple days to prepare, but for Adams, who's generally regarded as one of the hardest-working Boilermakers, that was plenty of time.

"I had to be ready, so I went to defensive film session and started picking up the calls and everything," he said. "… I remembered everything. It was something that was already there."

Adams played about a dozen defensive snaps vs. the Ducks, but none on offense, and didn't record a tackle.

"He did well Saturday," Hope said. "He … had a big hit on a special teams. He was into it, an excellent team person."

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